Keep an eye out for this new artist on the block! Nearly all 48 abstract paintings made by 10thgrader Muskaan Shah sold out on her exhibition’s first day itself. ‘Evolving Enigma’ has brought in good energy for Ahmedabad’s young artists in the art market.
Ahmedabad’s art scene is definitely on a high. Not only are the number of shows on the rise, but diverse curatorial approaches are also coming to the fore. However, if I believe hearsay, the same vigour is not reflected in actual figures of art sales. Evolving Enigma, a solo show by 15-year-old Muskaan Shah, has brought quite a few surprises to the table. Nearly all 48 of her artworks sold out on the show’s first day itself! We are told that only 3 or 4 works are left unsold. While the underdogs in the World Cup are taking the football field by storm, it seems that the scenario is no different in Ahmedabad’s art fraternity!
Muskaan’s artworks were bought by connoisseurs, art-lovers and collectors, as well as by family members. One might argue that the personal networks of Muskaan’s parents Pradita and Darshan Shah have led to such an encouraging response. Perhaps the support stems from emotional reasons? But having spent an hour at the gallery and witnessed the interest that visitors took towards Muskaan’s work, I am convinced that her art, on its own, has a strong pull.
The teenage artists’ very first exhibition, Evolving Enigma was inaugurated on June 26 at the prestigious Herwitz Art Gallery, next to Amdavad Ni Gufa, in the presence of senior artist Nabibakhsh Mansoori, veteran painter Natu Mistry, art collector Anil Relia, and founder of Ahmedabad International School Gorsi Parekh. Giriraj Kadia assisted in displaying the exhibition. Large groups of people flocked to see the show, from relatives and classmates familiar with Muskaan to art-lovers curious to discover this new talent.
All 48 of the vivid artworks were made by Muskaan in the span of one year, under the mentorship of Arjan Patel. Patel, an artist who has had over 25 solo shows, stood proudly during the exhibition, observing as several people came by to congratulate his student. Muskaan’s art not only fetched positive compliments but also monetary rewards; an encouraging scenario for the budding artist. Young Muskaan’s creative energy will be there for all to see until July 1 in the Herwitz Art Gallery, every day from 04:00 PM to 08:00 PM. Visitors can also keep a small part of Muskaan’s paintings with themselves by purchasing bookmarks and diaries that bear prints of her works.
Muskaan’s family was visibly moved during the show’s lamp lighting ceremony. They recounted how privileged they feel to have watched Muskaan grow from being a shy teenager to a beautiful painter. Gorsi Parekh, being the founder of Muskaan’s school, has seen her line of thought grow over the years. She expressed her happiness, saying, “As teachers, we feel glad when our ‘incepted’ ideas grow as a child ages. In Muskaan’s case, I am proud to watch her art grow with unlimited imagination.”
Muskaan began her artistic journey in the 5th grade with pencil shading and has been learning art under the tutelage of Arjan Patel since more than 8 years now. She was initially shy in experimenting with colours, thinking that they will ruin her paintings. But, with the help of her mentor Arjan Sir, and her mother Pradita Shah, she started to venture bravely into layering multiple colours within a single frame. Each of her paintings at the show depicts a unique aspect of Muskaan’s personality. Animal figures camouflaged behind pale painted bars and fences seem to capture the shy side of the young artist. Her vivacious, textured landscapes made using knives express her jovial self. Other paintings made with attractive hues that come together in abstract forms, give a glimpse into her meticulous nature.
Anil Relia observed each of Muskaan’s artworks with undivided concentration and noted, “Though there is a range of paintings here, I can’t spot repetitiveness, and the paintings are not at all humdrum. Today, looking at her fresh creativity, I was reminded of MF Hussain, who often insisted on encouraging children to bring their art more frequently to the Amdavad Ni Gufa.”
Each painting of Muskaan’s draws out a different meaning from onlookers, some of which may differ from the maker’s perspective. This is where the beauty of Muskaan’s art resides. Her willingness to share her art openly gives viewers an opportunity to look at their own reflections in her paintings. The process is an interactive one. Some might see a river in her painting, while another sees the sky. But neither is wrong, because Muskaan wants her viewers to ponder and come up with their own conclusions.
Organising a solo show of 48 artworks is surely not child’s play! Rather, Mansoori says, “People often say that a one-person show cannot be organised at a young age. But I don’t think that is the case. The ideology is relevant here. I think Muskaan’s creativity would have come out more colourfully if she was given an even bigger platform.”
Beside Muskaan’s brilliant sense of aesthetics, there are many other reasons why the show has received such an excellent response. Tagging the artworks with appropriate prices is perhaps one of them. I’ve often seen that when artworks at an exhibition are not accompanied by price tags, prospective buyers shy out from asking their price, imagining how awkward it would look if they don’t eventually buy the work! Or often, many viewers are not even aware that the artworks are for sale. The differently sized artworks have been priced between Rs 4000 to Rs 6000. Evolving Enigma also raises a point about art pricing in the context of Ahmedabad’s market. While veterans and masters have well-defined market standings, if young and upcoming artists can meet the perceived ‘affordable’ range, than they might just attract more new buyers. It’s also worth a mention that the show was systematically promoted on social media, prior to its opening.
The welcoming response that the city has showered on teenage talent Muskaan Shah in her very first art show goes to show how deeply the city cares about encouraging young talent. Bring your loved ones to Evolving Enigma until July 1, at the Herwitz Art Gallery next to Amdavad Ni Gufa, between 04:00 PM to 08:00 PM.
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